Almirante: Seafarer’s failure to report to company physician

RESPONDENT Gerwil Crewing Phils. Inc. recruited petitioner Marcelo M. Corpuz Jr. to work as an able seaman with Echo Cargo & Shipping LLC on board the vessel MT Azarakhsh and was deployed on Aug. 5, 2008. On May 17, 2009, petitioner was brought to a hospital in the United Arab Emirates due to severe headache and vomiting after he allegedly sustained a fall while lifting heavy motor parts on board the vessel. He experienced an episodic low back pain radiating to his left posterior side accompanied by severe pain of the foot. This caused him to slip, hitting his chest first followed by his head.

He was repatriated and arrived in Manila on Sept. 9, 2009. He claims he reported to the office of respondent the next day. However, respondent’s chief executive officer Rommel S. Valdez denied his request for medical assistance on the ground that his illness was not work-related. The Court of Appeals (CA) did not give credence to his claim.

Did the CA err?

Ruling: No.

While the rule vests in the employer the burden to prove that the seafarer was referred to the company-designated physician for a post-employment examination, the same presupposes that the seafarer had first reported to the employer’s office.

In here, respondent submitted copies of its visitor logbook to disprove petitioner’s claim that he visited their office immediately after his repatriation. Notable that petitioner’s name does not appear in the entries of said logbook from Sept. 4, 2009 until Oct. 6, 2009.

Faced with this evidence, petitioner remained silent and did not rebut or address the same in his pleadings. Between petitioner’s bare and unsupported allegations and the documentary evidence submitted by respondents, We are more inclined to accord weight to the latter.

Thus, We find petitioner’s failure to comply with the mandatory post-employment medical examination to be due to his own omission and not through respondent’s fault.

To reiterate, the three-day period from return of the seafarer or sign-off from the vessel, whether to undergo a post-employment medical examination or report the seafarer’s physical incapacity, should always be complied with to determine whether the injury or illness is work-related. Hence, petitioner’s failure to comply with the mandatory reporting requirement resulted in the forfeiture of his right to claim disability benefits and proved fatal to his cause (Marcelo M. Corpuz Jr. vs. Gerwil Crewing Phils. Inc., G.R. 205725, Jan. 18, 2021).


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